A soldier accused of killing two women who waved a white flag during the "Cast Lead" operation in Gaza reached a plea bargain with the military advocate general and will be jailed for 45 days. The agreement will be submitted today to the Jaffa military court, after negotiations between MAG and the soldier's attorneys. The soldier, Staff Sgt. S', from Givati Brigade will be convicted of a relatively light offense - illegal use of weapons.
The soldier's indictment is considered the most significant case handled by the MAG in relation to Operation Cast Lead. S' was originally accused of killing a woman and daughter whose names were mentioned in the UN Goldstone Report. Ria Abu Hajaj, 64, and her daughter Majda, 37, were killed as they were waving a white flag on the first day of the Israel Defense Force's ground operation in Gaza, on January 4, 2009.
The indictment was one of several indictments submitted by Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, former chief military advocate general following the accusations in the Goldstone Report concerning alleged war crimes committed by IDF soldiers.
At the time, IDF forces received warnings that an armed fighter hiding among fleeing women might try to shoot at soldiers. According to the evidence in the case, Staff Sgt. S' deliberately shot at a figure among the group of civilians, in contradiction to orders.
S' has long since completed his army service. His attorneys claimed that there was no proven connection between his shooting and the death of the two women, and that the two events occurred in different times. They further argued that indicting a soldier for the killing of an anonymous victim, when no body was found, is questionable, and that many other soldiers also opened fire in the said event.
An IDF spokesperson verified the details this morning, and added that, following an arbitration process in the case and "after examining all the evidence and circumstances, and following the military court's recommendation, both sides reached a plea bargain that would see the indictment corrected to illegal use of weapons."
The Goldstone Report is a 575-page report that accused Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of war crimes during their conflict in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. It was compiled by a UN-appointed delegation led by Judge Richard Goldstone, and sparked great controversy in Israel upon its release in 2009.